A BOGUS bride walked free from court last night while her “groom” and his two brothers were jailed.
Ewelina Piotrowska, 23, and Nahid Chaudhary, pictured, were arrested when immigration officials swooped before they could say “I do” at Calderdale Register Office, Halifax.
Nahid’s brothers Jam Roze, 44, and Saeed Akhtar, 34, and another guest, Kamran Qamar, 34, were also arrested.
All five were later charged with conspiracy to assist unlawful entry into the UK,
l Turn to Page 4 Leeds Crown Court heard that Chaudhary, from Pakistan, had already made two failed visa applications and his third, sponsored by Roze, was finally approved on August 18, 2010.
Then on January 7 - six weeks before his six-month visa was due to expire - the Home Office received an application for a certificate of approval for his marriage to Piotrowska, a Polish national living in Shepley Street, Wakefield.
It was granted on February 15 - three days before his time in the UK was up.
Prosecutor Katherine Robinson told the court that the pair roused the suspicion of the deputy superintendent registrar at Leeds Register Office on March 4.
She said: “She quickly realised Chaudhary didn’t understand English and Piotrowska was answering questions for him. Both were constantly using their mobile telephones.”
Her suspicion grew when Piotrowska summoned an interpreter to help, the court heard.
“None of the parties appeared to be taking the procedures seriously, the interpreter actually laughing when the perjury proceedings were outlined,” said Miss Robinson.
The couple and their guests arrived for their wedding at 1pm on March 22, but the ceremony was dramatically brought to a halt by UK Border Agency and police officers.
Roze was searched and found to have £455 in cash as well as two rings.
Piotrowska, a mother-of-one, was quizzed about her child’s whereabouts and told officers the two-year-old was with her boyfriend, who she had been with for four years.
The court heard she was paid £1,000 for her role in the sham and had expected to be paid more once she and Chaudhary were husband and wife.
The pair admitted their parts in the conspiracy, as did Roze, of Cedar Court, Halifax.
Akhtar, of Hammond Street, Halifax, and Qamar, of Westfield Place, Halifax, denied the charge but were found guilty.
Gerald Hendron, for Chaudhary, said his client had been desperate to stay in the UK because of fears for his safety in Pakistan.
He said: “He entered the UK legally but whilst in the UK it seems a feud in the Punjab over land he and his family owned resulted in at least two people being killed, and he feared moving back for that reason.”
Abigail Langford, for Piotrowska, said the “naive” young mum had needed the cash to pay off huge debts caused by her partner’s gambling addiction.
Barristers for Qamar, Akhtar and Roze described them as respected, hard-working members of their community who had attended the ceremony out of a “misguided” sense of loyalty to Chaudhary.
None of the defendants had any previous convictions.
Judge Rodney Grant sentenced Piotrowska, who he said had “substantial personal mitigation”, and Qamar, a “latecomer” to the plot, to 12 months in prison each, suspended for two years, and ordered them to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Chaudhary was jailed for 12 months and deportation proceedings are soon to be launched against him.
Akhtar was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Roze was locked up for 16 months.
Judge Grant said: “This is a serious offence. It involves, in this case, a cynical abuse of the marriage laws, and constitutes in my view an attack on the foundations and structure of the immigration law of this country.”
Jeremy Oppenheim, Regional Director for the UK Border Agency, said: “The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages across the country. The message is clear – immigration abuse will not be tolerated and we will take the strongest possible action against those involved.
“Immigration crime is not victimless. The gangs involved in this activity often have links to serious organised crime and it places huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it.
“We work closely with registrars across the region, and our dedicated crime teams will continue to make life as tough as possible for those who seek to abuse the immigration system.”